The sacrifices have paid off for former Altona basketballer Tyla Paraha.
Paraha has been selected for the Victorian 2021 under-20 Navy Blue women’s team, set to represent the state at next month’s Australian Junior Championships.
Paraha, who was born in Werribee and lived in Tarneit her whole life, started playing basketball when she was about six.
“I made the decision to play basketball due to family members,“ Paraha said.
“I had two cousins that grew up playing in the Basketball Victoria system.
“I started off at Werribee and in the under-14s, I moved around quite a bit.
“I went to Bulleen.
“I made the commute from Tarneit all the way to East Doncaster every Wednesday, Sunday and Friday.“
Paraha said she had made the more than one-hour and 50 kilometre trek to Doncaster East to further her development.
“I had heaps of friends at Werribee and stuff but I definitely wanted to take my career more seriously,“ she said.
“The dynamic of basketball is a little bit different over those ends, and Bulleen especially is known to be one of the top clubs in Victoria.
“So, moving over there was just a big step to improve myself as a player.
“Then, when I was under-18s bottom-age, I moved to Altona to be closer to home and so that my year 12 year wasn’t full of travelling and juggling school and things.“
Paraha had been selected for the under-18 state team last year but didn’t play due to COVID-19.
Schooled at Tarneit P-9 College, Baden Powell College in Tarneit and Tarneit Senior College, Paraha said basketball had provided opportunities she may otherwise not have had.
“I’m from a family of six children,“ she said.
“We’ve all had the opportunity to play basketball and try out for the representative teams in our local clubs.
“My parents are both New Zealand citizens, so they were both born in New Zealand.
“They came to Australia with single parents.
“So, for me, it’s really big because I know there aren’t many of us in my immediate family that have finished high school and then gone on to do things like go overseas and get an education.
“So, it’s pretty big for me and big for my family here in Tarneit because you don’t really see it much in my area either.“
Paraha, 18, is working as a dental assistant to save money to attend Newberry College in South Carolina.
“I’ve already committed to a college in the States, so I guess, just from here, extra game footage, anything that I can get from this upcoming tournament will impact my future pretty big,“ she said.
“Just being a part of the Basketball Victoria system, making a team like that, it’s really prestigious and not many kids do have the opportunity to either do the tryouts or to even make the team. For me, it’s a really big honour.
“I’m just really grateful for the opportunity and just excited for what’s to come.“
Paraha will head to Mackay, Queensland, for the Australian under-20 Junior Championships from May 3-7.